Annual tree lighting and holiday party is west Menlo Park neighborhood favorite

by Linda Hubbard on December 2, 2012

Longtime residents may recall the days when the big tree in Fremont Park was festooned with lights. Or the years when churches in the area gathered congregations together for a candlelight caroling procession on city streets. Today tree lightings and such are more neighborhood activities.

Six years ago, Pam and Oscar Salvatierra started what’s become a west Menlo Park neighborhood tradition. They have a tall Redwood in their front yard which has been strung with LED lights. In early December they send out an invitation to about 250 neighbors. The tree lighting is combined with a toy and food drive; the collected goods are then delivered to a local fire station. The party went on as planned yesterday evening, with their garage serving as party headquarters given the weather.

“The annual party is so rewarding,” said Pam. “It’s so good to get to know your neighbors and people say they love the tree. We call it ‘the people’s tree’ now.”

The Salvatierras serve refreshments, Christmas carols get sung, and, to the delight of the children, Santa Claus makes an appearance.

“Santa is essential,” said Pam. “The kids remember from year to year and would be disappointed if he didn’t come, let kids sit on his lap, and hand out candy canes.

Photos by Anita Diddery

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